de Vos: Strolling with the QE2
December 9, 2016
People say mules are stubborn only because they've never had a basset hound. Our basset, Freeta Goodhome, is a classic example of that doggedness. She came to us rather unexpectedly from the Granby Animal Shelter. They called, my wife and I exchanged looks, shrugged, and fifteen minutes later we were the dumbstruck parents of an incorrigible homewrecker.
Her history was a bit sketchy; all we had was a note from the shelter cautioning that she was, "not good on a leash". Nowhere did the note say that, home alone, she turned into a raging, four-legged lunatic, emptying and demolishing the contents of every cabinet she could reach from the floor. Finished with the wanton destruction on the ground, she entered the aerial phase, launching from barstool to countertop in search of anything remotely edible, including the night's thawing dinner, the sugar canister and a potted Christmas cactus in the window.
The colored splotches of chewed-apart Jello packages dabbed throughout the rubble lent a touch of surreal gaiety to an otherwise jaw-dropping shocker. Convinced we'd been vandalized, I dialed 9-1- but my wife put her hand on my shoulder and said, "My God, I think it was the dog." I paused and looked across the mess and finally settled on Freeta, curled on the sofa with a look of total innocence belied by a butter wrapper stuck to her ear.
"Not good on a leash", proved to be an understatement of Old Testament proportions. Walking Freeta is like pulling a loaded barge up the Mississippi. Perchance I should get all adamant about putting one foot in front of the other in that repetitive pattern called "walking" she retaliates by digging in all four paws not unlike the anchor on the QE2. Should I be so callous as to speak loudly while gently tugging on her harness, she will simply lie down and ignore the world, an immovable object resembling a large landscaping feature.
There is an ancient Chinese paradox from 3rd century BC about an immovable object meeting an irresistible force, probably referring to the first basset. It turns out I'm not the best "irresistible force" around. Freeta was two years old when we got her and we've had her for ten, so in dog-years she's 84. She's still pretty spry but unless you had a pretty mean childhood, you wouldn't drag your old granny around at the end of a rope, would you? I resign myself to strolls with long frequent stops to smell the . . . well, those aren't roses she prefers but you get my drift.
Earlier this week we were out for a walk when it began enthusiastically blowing and snowing, so I tried to hurry her up a bit. Indignantly, she flopped over on her side and feigned death. I waited patiently at the end of the leash for her spell to pass.
A car drove by, slowed, and lowered a window. Freeta didn't twitch a whisker. The driver asked if everything was okay. I decided to go with the truth, explaining that I was pretty sure the dog had died a few weeks ago but she still enjoyed getting out.
He fishtailed getting away.